Contributed by a mission leader from SE Asia who requests anonymity.

Are you a powerboat or a sailboat?

In my last circular I referred to the metaphor of sailing and the question of Dr. Roger Parrott, “Are you building a sailboat that will catch the wind of God, or are you only fine tuning the engine on your powerboat so that you can keep going no matter which way the wind is blowing?”

Mindful of the fact that power structures affect relationships, I find this a helpful way to illustrate that it is very appropriate to place our trust – not in the engine of our powerboat – but in the Wind of God, to take our sailboat where he wants us to go! Using a sailboat frame of reference, we realise that success depends completely on the sailing team’s ability to trust each other and co-operate together and with the external elements.

The journey itself is as important as the destination. The sailors know that a strategy that worked yesterday might fail them tomorrow. They respect and carefully assess the context, and realise that flexibility is one of their greatest resources. This can really be scary: to dare more boldly, to dream bigger, to sail out of the safe harbour and farther away from the shore, to venture on wilder seas where we might often times lose sight of land … to only “find the stars”, as Sir Francis Drake tells us!

But, there may be just as much danger in not stepping boldly out in faith, as there is in the journey itself, as Mark Twain said so vividly, “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

The partnership journey can be a messy and hazardous one, but it can certainly also be an exciting and challenging journey of exploration and discovery. Let us continue to place our trust in the Lord to guide and direct us as we set sail as a flotilla of partnership boats to reach the destination God has set before us.

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